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Mapping Deep Waters to Discover Lake Trout Spawning Grounds

Project Summary

Several miles from the harbor in Marquette, Mich., about the length of a football field down, a swath of lake floor might be the secret spawning ground of siscowet, a deep-dwelling strain of lake trout. Little is known about the life cycle of Lake Superior's siscowets. Presumably, they spawn over deep reefs but no sites have been identified. Michigan researchers discovered a clue to the location of the spawning grounds when they netted several egg-laden females during regular sampling.

This project seeks to map potential spawning habitat used by Lake Superior's abundant siscowet population using multibeam and sidescan sonar techniques to generate data and images reflecting the lake floor's composition. Approximately 25 square miles will be scrutinized for evidence of deep lake floor reefs and areas of cobble. This research should result in a clearer picture of a potentially important portion of Lake Superior's floor and of siscowet spawning habitat. The study and maps will benefit fisheries managers throughout the Great Lakes seeking to understand lake trout or restore these native fish to their former range.

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